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Thompson Addresses Children with Type 1 Diabetes

By Joan Chamberlain

Finding a cure for type 1 diabetes was the rallying cry of 200 delegates, ages 2 to 17, and their parents, who attended the Children's Congress of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF) in Washington, D.C., in June.

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson was the keynote speaker at a town hall meeting that launched the 4-day event organized by the JDRF to call national attention to the urgent need for a cure for type 1 diabetes. Formerly known as insulin-dependent diabetes, this autoimmune disease destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. It often strikes children and young adults, who must then rely on insulin injections or an insulin pump for survival.

Seven-year-olds (from l) Ashley McFeeley, Cassie Maxwell and Madison McFeeley attend JDRF's town hall meeting.

Thompson, along with NIDDK director Dr. Allen Spiegel, answered questions and discussed research progress in type 1 diabetes. "We've made meaningful, measurable progress in understanding and treating type 1 diabetes, one of the most common chronic diseases in children," Thompson said. "People with this disease are living longer with a better quality of life and fewer complications. At the pace research is moving and with the exciting, innovative studies under way, we can expect that discoveries in the underlying biology of diabetes will lead to a new generation of prevention and treatment."

"You are the inspiration that drives me and the researchers," said Spiegel as he fielded delegates' questions about islet transplantation and other aspects of research in type 1 diabetes. "Scientists have to be objective in looking at results. Your commitment gives them inspiration, the extra energy necessary to bring a cure to reality."

Thompson announced publication of Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed, a new guide for school personnel to help students with diabetes, and Special Statutory Funding Program for Type 1 Diabetes Research, an HHS progress report on recent achievements, collaborative projects and opportunities in type 1 diabetes research. Both publications are on the NIDDK web site, www.niddk.nih.gov. Single copies are free of charge from NIDDK's National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse at 1-800-860-8747.

NIDDK director Dr. Allen Spiegel answers questions about type 1 diabetes research.

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